Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Note to self - you can trust your intuition

I had a moment of clarity today that coincided with the clear sky's above. I wrote a post a while back I can't be bothered digging up on a question as to whether I was lying by omission.

I listened to Sam Harris' audio book 'lying' in the past couple of days and found it vague on providing me a definitive answer on whether I had been unethical, even though the question had become moot - which is to say one way or another I have to live with the consequences of my non-disclosure.

All I could really say, in basically dropping the question and not paying it much mind, is that it never once felt wrong. I never once did I feel like I'd missed an opportunity to disclose the truth. My intuition let me sit easy with not saying a phrase aloud to an audience of consequence.

A lie of omission, that would be unethical for example would be to not disclose that I knew definitively of an affair being carried out to that persons partner. I would become complicit in the affair even if I saw other parties as having a greater burden of responsibility to tell the person than I did. Harris' book gives a great an illustrative example of such a case.

It is also a lie of omission for me to not disclose the true degree of uncertainty I feel speaking on a subject for which an audience is heeding my advice. That too would be unethical.

But it took until today to have my conscious brain click as to why I felt no compunction to share information I had in a situation that bothered me. But it clicked quite loudly, and successfully and I feel much lighter because of it.

The information I possessed was irrelevant to the decision being made. If it were of consequence, the information I possessed would actually no longer be true, nor informative, and hence not actual information.

Or perhaps in other words, to beat around the bush, if the decision to be made was actually conditional on the information omitted, then the decision would fundamentally change in nature.


Consider by analogy that somebody you know is producing a movie. They are looking over and over the script wondering if it really has the potential to be a great film. They are looking at the production company and the locations sought and questioning the viability of such an ambitious project. You see your friend stressed and being a billionaire with an actual human-chess set, know you could afford to underwrite the production and protect them financially.

Suddenly the decision this person faces is not 'is this film going to get made?' to 'do I want to make this film?' or to be absolved of evaluating the fundamental downside risk and just consider the upside.

See even if all of the above doesn't make much sense, my intuition get's it. I trust it.

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